Guatemala: Protests for Assassinated Lawyer Streamed Live from Laptops in the Streets


Protests are taking place today in Guatemala City to demand justice for an attorney who was assassinated on Sunday, and who claimed in a posthumously released YouTube video taped before his death that if he were to die, it would be at the orders of Guatemalan president Álvaro Colom.

Quick background: The slain attorney, Rodrigo Rosenberg, represented a man who refused to take an assigment by Guatemala's president to serve on the board of a bank widely known as a money laundering hub and a shelter for narcotrafficking spoils. This whistleblower client of Rosenberg, Khalil Musa, was assassinated in March. On Sunday, after reportedly refusing to participate in the corruption and the coverup, Rosenberg himself was assassinated.

Protesters are at the presidential palace today. Libertópolis is streaming the action on Ustream.tv, as I type, though the stream is going on and off as armed military police swarm in.

Twitter users are marking conversations about today's protests, and about the case in general, with the hashtag #escandalogt. To take this sort of public action in Guatemala is not something one does lightly, and the young people at the center of these protests are placing their lives at risk.

I'm seeing some Guatemalan Twitterers spreading word that "chicken bus" drivers will gather tomorrow in the capital for another round of protests. Why? These same transportistas have long been the target of ever-escalating assasinations and extortion from narco gangs. The same corruption Rosenberg and Musa attempted to expose fuels this cycle of violence.

I don't have factual confirmation, but Guatemalan BB readers and Twitterers are saying that coverage of this story on the Guatemalan television networks is actively censored by the state (and that the recently declared "swine flu emergency" in a country with only 3 confirmed H1N1 cases was little more than a thinly disguised attempt by the state to exert more control). Claims of censorship there have historic precedent, and it makes the existence of these online "citizen TV" transmissions all the more significant. (via deztyped and many others)

Previously: Guatemala - In YouTube Video Shot Before His Death, Attorney Blames President for His Assasination


Update, 3pm PT, May 12: CNN now has an item on the story.

Update, 330pm PT, May 12: Photos from the protest are here. And here is audio from the protest. And here is a website demanding the president be impeached and brought to trial.